Special elections not exempt from HAVA
As the saying goes, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. And apparently, what's good for townships is good for the county. At the Wednesday board meeting, county auditor/treasurer Pam Heeren suggested petitioning the state for exempt...
As the saying goes, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. And apparently, what's good for townships is good for the county.
At the Wednesday board meeting, county auditor/treasurer Pam Heeren suggested petitioning the state for exemption from Help America Vote Act (HAVA) mandates for special county elections.
HAVA was passed to make voting easier and fairer for disabled voters. Each polling place in the state is now required to have special machines to assist handicapped voters. However, the machines are costly.
At the Jan. 18 board meeting, it was estimated each machine would cost $600 to operate in 2006. Federal funds are expected to cover $223,524 of equipment costs, but an additional $102,000 is requested in the form of grant applications.
In order to save money, county auditor Pam Heeren suggested excusing special elections from HAVA requirements, such as if a county commissioner resigns mid-term.
"So in a special election, handicapped people can't vote?" asked commissioner Lyle Robinson.
"They are more than welcome to vote and we already have provisions in place (to help them)," Heeren said.
"After buying all the equipment and putting up with all the crap, we might as well use the machines," Robinson said, referring to the drawn-out process of buying and funding the HAVA machines.
"But you have a pretty big expense to use them," noted commissioner Cal Johannsen.
"Nobody said democracy is cheap," Robinson replied. He rationalized that if townships are expected to use the pricey machines, the county should, too.
"If they can throw $7,000 at a precinct that gets five or six people to vote, in an area where we get thousands to vote, we might as well use the machines."
The board ultimately decided to follow HAVA regulations for all elections.
In other business Wednesday, the board:
* Approved retaining the legal services of Scott Anderson of Ratwik, Roszak and Maloney of Minneapolis for the environmental services department. Anderson will receive a yearly retainer of $3,000 and $150 per hour for any special projects or services. He will provide legal advice on zoning issues.
* Approved several change orders for the new Hubbard County Law Enforcement Center, including $3,763 for data and voice cabling at 15 locations and $3,800 for various technology.
* Heard from public works director David Olsonawski concerning county road conditions. More than 70 sections of road around the county have spring weight restrictions of 5, 7,9 or 10 tons.
"We're going to see a lot of rough roads this spring due to the (shallow) frost," he said. "It's going to show up real fast."
* Set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Monday, April to discuss the subdivision and shoreland management ordinance amendments.
The board also scheduled a work session, to review revisions to the shoreland ordinance, for 9 a.m. April 3. The board subsequently cancelled its April 12 work session.
* Presented safe driver awards to George Grundman and Marvin Koel of the Hubbard County Heartland Express, both of whom had an accident-free year. Koel was present to accept the award; he is starting his fifth year of back up driving for the service.
"It's a great job, and I really appreciate having it," he said. "Many of the people we transport are elderly and some of them are really frail. Even a fender bender or sudden stop could cause some problems. Every time I park the bus for the day, I'm grateful for not hurting somebody."
* Agreed to replace the public announcement system in the courthouse at the expense of the state. The microphone/ speaker equipment in the courthouse, which was installed in the 1970s, belongs to the county, but the state is willing to pay to replace it.